Sunday, February 27, 2011

Let's Get Together

Last night we went to a dinner party. It has been years since we have been to or hosted a dinner party. It was a wonderful group of dear old friends. Let me clarify. Three couples there have been friends for decades. We are newer friends. That is, our husbands are all good friends, and have been for some time but this was my first time to get together with everyone. Let me tell you, I was welcomed in like I had been there all along. It was so sweet to get to spend the evening in the company of a group that fits like an old glove, and to have them include you so seamlessly that you forget you are the newbie. That is love and grace in action. So thank you to these dear new friends that already feel "old" to me.

As we were all around the table enjoying the good food, glowing candlelight, and basking in the warmth of dear friends, I found myself reflecting upon just how blessed I am. There I was at a table with these wonderful, loving, kind and authentic people. I couldn't help but think of how many amazing people we have in our lives, and just how seldom we all get our act together enough to come together. There is that word again, together. It keeps coming up!

So I want to take this moment to thank you all, dear family and friends old and new, near and far. For all the times we have shared in laughter, in counsel, in joy and in tears. This is what it is all about. To love and be loved. To share life together. Our lives are a rich tapestry of these events woven together. So let's break bread together. Let's make it a regular thing. These special moments are just all together too few, and I for one am going to attempt to up the average! Come on over, or give me a call and let's get...together, yeah yeah yeah!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Here We Go Again

We just got back from Pismo Beach. The Central Coast of California is so beautiful, the rolling hills, the beautiful beaches, there is a lot to like about it. If you haven't been to this region, it is definitely worth seeing. Krista and I went up the coast for her to see Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, on our way home we looked at UC Santa Barbara. This is part of the process. The letting go process. Ironically, Father of The Bride was on tv last night as I began this posting. It is such a sweet movie. As Steve Martin goes through the process of acknowledging his little girl is all grown up, I can't help but chuckle inside about the similarities in my own life, and getting ready to send our youngest off to school. Synchronisitic.

I am reminded of getting to meet my husband's Italian cousins a few years ago, when they came to town on vacation. Ry was 17 and a year from heading off to school. Karl's cousin was so excited to share with his wife that we would be sending our son off at 18. His wife was horrified. She said, "He is just a baby! How will you do this?"

At the time I smiled and said, "This is pretty normal here. It is how we do it."

She replied, "Our son will not leave the house until he marries in his late 20's, maybe even into his 30's! I can't imagine letting him go any sooner."

Flash to a year later, (how does time pass so quickly?) as my own son went off to college, I couldn't help but remember that conversation with Karl's cousin and his wife. I felt pretty silly about my then confident reply. Thinking back on how sure I was that it would be easy to let my first born move away, and living through the experience of it were two different things.

My brother in law, who is a new father, recently asked me how I will be with Krista heading off soon. I told him I thought it would be okay, but I just really didn't know. Certainly I have tried to feel into this potentiality, and try as I might, I just can't. As we were driving up through Los Angeles for a brief stretch on the road, I felt myself move through the first hints of getting ready to let Krista go. A wave of grief washed over me, as I realized she will be making this drive on her own before too long, going to and from school. Aha. So there it is. The grief, just a smidgen of it peeking out. What will it really be like? I have no idea.

During the two years Ry has been away, he has moved further away in some ways, and closer in others. Our relationship has changed, it has grown, become richer and deeper, and yet it is clear he doesn't need me. He even wants to consult with me less. Ouch. That hurts. And yet, he is happy, self confident, doing well in school, happily in a loving relationship with an adorable girlfriend. I couldn't ask for more, and I wouldn't want to take any of that away from him. So that said, as I stand in this in between space with Krista, I find myself treasuring every interaction, the giggles we have, the insight she surprises me with, the passion she shares about different subjects. The woman she has become. Wow. I wouldn't want to get in the way of this.

Just as Steve Martin learns to get on board with his daughter's joy in her engagement and wedding planning, I am getting on board with releasing Krista. It is not always easy. I might not always be graceful, but I am doing my best to follow her lead. After all, I have done this once before. With great success. Well, mostly. I can do this again. It is the most loving thing I can do.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ode to KTMAC

KTMAC. It is pronounced "K" - "T", "MAC". This is our book club: Kim, Terry, Marianne, Ami and Cheryl. KTMAC. These women touch my heart. If you love books, I suggest you join a book club. If there isn't one you can find, make one up. KTMAC has been meeting for over 10 years. I know, shocking! We are shocked too. We have read over 100 books, we have lists and ratings to prove it! We have enjoyed wonderful meals, at one another's homes and out. We have done breakfast, lunch, dinner, movies, holiday celebrations, even weddings and showers. We are a varied group, with strong opinions, values and beliefs. I knew it would be great to be in a book club when we started, but I didn't know how great.

I didn't know these would become some of my dearest friends. We meet monthly, and over the years we have formed a bond that has come from sharing our deepest thoughts, desires and beliefs, sometimes triggered by what we've read, but often not. We don't always agree with one another, but we do always love and respect one another, and we are always kind.

These women have given me so much. I can hardly explain it all here. Each one has been a role model for me. Teaching me certainly about true and abiding friendship, but also about long, loving marriages (collectively we've been married over 150 years to our same husbands - WOW), caring for family members and friends in need, raising up puppies and chillins, hostessing with heart, welcoming in daughter's and son's in law and being graceful Mother's in law, the joys of grand-parenting, the pitfalls of financial hardships, wo-men-o-pause, the importance of doing for others, even those we don't know who live a world away, and being good stewards of the earth, to name a few. These women walk the talk. They are the real deal. They are loving, loyal, enduring, kind and pure of heart. Together we have celebrated the joys life brings, supported one another through the challenges and have mourned the losses. We have been touched by peace, grace, inspiration, and joy in one another's company countless times. We have laughed so hard we cried, and touched one another to tears. Over these years, we have grown to be dear friends. I always wanted to be a part of the wisdom, support and kinship of women like this, it is better than any book I've read. I am blessed. These are the Ladies of The Book Club KTMAC, they touch my heart. We meet once a month, and we always have fun. I love you Ladies, and I love KTMAC.

P.S. If you are thinking you want this in your life too (let's face it, who wouldn't?) it doesn't have to be a book club. It can be a loving friend fest, or pizza lovers club. Whatever. Just get a group together, show up and listen with love. Do it again and again. Let the magic happen. Oh and laugh, you have to laugh, mostly at yourselves, oh and at words like polyamory. What? Why? Did I have to go there? I just did.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Break-up Story and My New BFF

I am not breaking up with you completely Ina. I have followed you. You have helped me to feed my family and friends. I love being invited into your home and kitchen, meeting your friends and husband, Jeffrey. I have dreamed about living in The Hamptons, about lush gardens and old buildings, all about as far away from San Diego as you can get. Who wouldn't want a Contessa for a friend? Especially a Barefoot Contessa. Of course I am talking about Ina Garten. I have all your cookbooks, I've cooked countless meals from fancy dinners to Holiday extravaganza's and easy nights at home with your help. Your recipies are almost all a great combination of simple and fabulous. I've loved you and shared you with friends and family. My copy of "The Barefoot Contessa Family Style" is dog eared and has so many drops and splashes on it, it would probably make a yummy soup if I boiled it. Don't worry I won't, and I won't give you up forever, Ina, I just couldn't. I made your Mac and Cheese this week. As always you assist me with one of my super powers; to make my husband swoon with yummy food. "The way to a man's heart..." and all that. Sadly you have left me wanting more. I have never truly felt I was a "friend". Our time is waning, it is time for you to move over Ina. I have a new BFF.

Her name is Ree Drummond and she is the Pioneer Woman, who cooks, and confesses and is a wife and mother, she has dogs and kitties. We have ever so much more in common. She writes you see. She is prolific. As I devour her stories in her blogs and her cookbook aptly titled, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks", as well as the food she inspires me to cook, I find myself falling for my new BFF. My daughter has a cold this week, and I went right to Ree's Chicken Noodle Soup for her and the family last night. It was wonderful, yummy, comforting, and I am sure healing for my daughter. This relationship is so much richer than my previous one. While I could watch Ina on tv, Ree e-mails me ideas for cooking almost every day, with pictures and a sense of humor to boot (pun intended). Doesn't this sound like a good friend? Good news, I am not delusional. I know Ina and Ree are not my friends. They don't even know I exist. I am clear on this. When it comes to virtual BFF's, this one is really hot (cooking, hot, you see what I just did there? Insert teenage daughter's eye roll here please). Ree can make her way into your heart too. I invite you to visit her website and her blogs and, I think you'll enjoy her. You will thank me later. Did I mention she has contests too? Where you can win actual supercool, awesome Le Creuset cookware and Kitchen Aid Mixers and even trips to visit Ree. Wowee. Right now I am about to dive into her book, "The Pioneer Woman, High Heels to Tractor Wheels, A Love Story". It looks great! I'm not giving anything away if I tell you she married a realo-trulo cowboy. And no, I am not being paid for this. This is all from my heart, and stomach, urp, excuse me.

As virtual friendships go, they are pretty one sided. It is their nature, being virtual and all. For all the giggles, heartfelt, sentimental stories, pictures and wonderful recipes, I thank you Ree Drummond. This is one way I can reciprocate for all the joy you've brought into my life, and no, if some of you are thinking about it I have never won any of her contests either! Sheesh!

I thank you Ina, Ree and all the other virtual friends I have followed out there. There have been others, but none so great as you. Most of all, hugs to my real BFF's (the ones I talk to and they actually talk back!), to my Mom who introduced me to cooking and the love of sharing food oh so many years ago and to my daughter Krista who has carried on the love of loving, writing and cooking for family and friends. You all make my life rich!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Am Rich Beyond Measure

I am rich beyond measure, let me count the ways...

Today I celebrate the love of my life, Karl. I won the marriage lottery with him! I love you Sweetheart. You make everyday a day of loving, from when I wake in the morning until my head hits the pillow at night. Thank you my love. I celebrate our wonderful kids, Ryan and Krista. How can it be that I won the Mother lottery too! Wow. You guys amaze me. I stand in awe of you both. I couldn't ask for two more loving, kind, thoughtful, intelligent children. You three are the greatest blessings in my life. Karl, we did a pretty good job! Phew! Thank you. I celebrate Dakota for the blessing she is in Ry's life. You touch me. It is a special thing when a young woman falls in love with your son, I am blessed by you loving Ry. Thank you Sweet Dakota.

I celebrate my loving family of origin, and Karl's loving family of origin, including inlaw's, outlaws, nieces and nephews. Not everyone has such amazing grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, brothers, sister's in law, and nieces and nephews, and cousins as we do. We are truly blessed by where we landed, warts and all. I wouldn't change a hair on anyone's head. I love you all, and I am grateful for you in our lives.

I celebrate and I am thankful for my dear friends. I was once told by a friend that one of the things she loved most about me is the amazing friends I surround myself with. She is a wise woman, and she is so right. That gift has served to make me aware of this precious gift of my friends, in all the places and spaces they have shown up in my life. I thank you again.

I am grateful for the dogs in our lives. They truly are the epitome of love, loyalty and devotion. Thank you our furry friends!

If you have found your way to my blog, and we have yet to lay eyes upon one another, I am grateful for you too.

So whether you live near or far, know you are always close to my heart!

Thank you one and thank you all for the tremendous gift of YOU in my life. I am rich beyond measure!

Celebrate and Spread Love and Gratitude today and everyday!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spread the Love

Today, on the Eve of St. Valentine's it seems appropriate to talk about love. Who we love and how we love says so much about us. As I ponder that thought and consider who I love, I feel so blessed by the presence of dear friends and family in my life. I can think back on earlier times and remember spinning in circles in some relationships, trying to figure out who I was and how to move about in this world. I must be a slow learner, it took me some time to uncover the underlying conditions which were my boulder sized blocks to love. Not that I am done removing those blocks, but I have whittled some down in size.

Does that mean I didn't really love anyone until recently? No, of course not! Learning about love is messy, but it involves getting in there and figuring it out. It makes me infinitely more grateful for those friends and family members who have been there for the long haul. It seems to me that as we are working to heal ourselves and remove the blocks to love, most people are working in one of three areas: with our friendships, with our primary love relationship, or with our family of origin. We work in all three areas, but at any one time we are generally centered in one of these three. Perhaps knowing this you can identify which area you are currently working on the most.

My dear, sweet husband has loved me through many years of my stumbling and bumbling in all my relationships with friends and family. Our children and our families of origin and our friendships have all been part of the mixture to make our lives rich. Today we have settled into a gentle rhythm, without the drama, trauma and stress of out of balance relationships. It is a blessing to have a peace-filled life. It has been a gift we share and enjoy and which affects all aspects of our lives. It is the gift that keeps on giving. Actually, that is what love is. It gets recycled, and regifted and just keeps getting better with time.

This week as you contemplate love, stretching yourself and spreading your love, remember to take a second to thank all those you love and have loved along the way. Even silently thank those friends and family who are no longer in your circle, or who have moved on, physically or emotionally. They have helped to shape who you are today. Good, bad or indifferent, thanking them for their part in shaping you is another way to help remove the blocks to love.

Sending you Love and Blessings with Joy and Gratitude!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pretty, Shiny, Twinkling Possibilities

This evening it is quiet. I am home all alone right now, and our dogs are sleeping. The gentle rumble of their synchronized breathing has put me in a cozy lull. This week has me buzzing with blessings. I have been connecting with friends, old and new, seeing some possibilities for what may be coming down the pike for me. Several possibilities are twinkling at me. They look so pretty and shiny! I can feel the excitement tingling through my body as I ponder these. Things are shifting and changing so quickly, it feels like this will be the case this year. For many of us this will be a time of releasing the "old" (those things things which no longer serve us), and preparing the fertile, fresh turned soil for what is coming next. Don't be concerned about releasing those things which no longer serve you, let them go with joy and gratitude for what they have brought into your life and allow them to float away from you with joy. Every person, situation, job or circumstance either feeds us or takes away from us. It is not about releasing every area we "give" in. Of course not, we would no longer choose to be mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, employees, friends and many other roles and relations. What we want to release are those things, people and obligations in which we feel we give ever so much more than we could ever hope to be repaid. We usually know where to make these releases, but what we can't see are the amazing benefits and gifts which come from creating the space in our lives for the possibility of what is to come. So this evening as I ponder the possibilities, and I feel the excitement around what is yet to be, maybe you want to ponder your own possibilities.

I am filled with gratitude for those dear friends and family in my life, for all the gifts and blessings in my life, and for the pretty, shiny possibilities twinkling about, dancing like sugarplums around in my head.

I am grateful to you, for reading these musings. I would love to hear what possibilities are tickling your fancy, so we might share on this journey together.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trying to Find the Balance

There have been times in my life when I did too much. When I packed my plate so full of doings that if one meeting or errand ran late, my whole day was off track, with little or no hope of recovering. My kids were little, and I was running the household, but also volunteering at their school in the classrooms, PTA meetings, and on the board of several non profit organizations. I was really in my doing. It took me some time to realize how out of balance I was. Most of the activities I was doing were worthwhile, but not all of them all at once. Clearing my schedule was a process. It took me time to release some projects and responsibilities, but release them I did. I began learning about me. Taking workshops, classes and seminars in areas that spoke to me. All of this has been rewarding and has enriched my life and allowed for more spiritual and emotional growth and development. I began moving forward from the inside out. At times I wonder if I have pared down too much, if I am erring on the side of too little to do, which sounds strange, but it feels important for me to have some extra space, some wiggle room. On weeks like this one coming up I am booked by my new standards. And yet, there is down time. There is time to be with friends and with family. I have set aside time to connect with friends who live away, and some friends who are here in town. I will be present and available for my family, get my "chores" done, and still have time for me.

That all sounds great, wonderful, so together of me. Oh I am so impressed! Well then why is it that with all this extra available time I am barely able to get anything done? I find myself keeping the house tidy, and doing the general "to do's", but I am having a hard time getting the extras done. Those niggling tasks like cleaning out my closet (I can do that next week), going through those papers accumulating on my desk (next week, I'll get through those next week). What about the freezer? I have so been meaning to clean that out, as well as the junk drawer in the kitchen, the 'gift and wrapping closet', the pantry could stand a more thorough top to bottom cleaning (next week, next week....oh shoot it's getting busy next week, what about the week after?). And so it goes. Somehow when I was crazy busy I could get a zillion things done, and even get a few more things done in my nonexistent spare time. So why is it that I have more free time and I get so much less done? I don't want to go back to the way things were. I wouldn't trade the improvement in the quality of my life. There is no doubt that I have been able to spend much more time with connections. Connections with family members, friends, connecting to my own path and purpose, connecting to The Divine. All these benefits are immeasurable. They are what makes my life rich. I like who I am so much more today than who I was when I was on the go, go, go. I have been able to be a more patient and present wife, mother, daughter, sister, seeker and friend. I can't put a price on that. But that doesn't mean I let the extra jobs keep piling up.

So I am looking to find this balance. I don't want to be back on the human hamster wheel. I do want to tap more into the doing energy, without going overboard. I do want to keep the quality of life I have found, the benefits that come from being fully present in the moment, of just Being with myself, my family, my friends. This is one of the areas I am looking to find balance in my life. Perhaps when I get through these current transitions, I'll have more time, attention and energy for these extras. Hmmm, that sounds a whole lot like, "I'll get to that next week."

I will keep working on this end. Perhaps you have some ideas or suggestions for me? For now I will keep on moving in this general direction.

Sending you blessings and love for today and everyday.